Game Reserves – Protected Areas that are not National Parks
Tanzania’s Game Reserves and other protected areas are less well know than its National Parks. Many offer spectacular wilderness experiences. Together, they cover a far greater area than National Parks do (see map above). Game Reserves are mostly allocated by the Wildlife Department to tourist hunting companies for exclusive use by their clients. However, some are dedicated to non-comsumptive tourism and are increasingly accessible for non-hunters. Some Game Controlled Areas, Wildlife Management Areas and Forest Reserves, are also important tourist areas.
Selous (the northern blocks), Grumeti, Ikorongo and Maswa Game Reserves. These reserves are accessible and offer spectacular wildlife viewing and can be easily combined with visits to the parks.
GR: Game Reserve (Active Wildlife Department involvement – no settlements, farming or pastoralism)
GCA: Game Controlled Area (Active Wildlife Department involvement – settlements, farming or pastoralism permitted)
WMA: Wildlife Management Area (Limited Wildlife Department involvement / Active Community Management – segregated settlements, farming or pastoralism permitted)
OA: Open Area (Limited or absent Wildlife Management – no restrictions on human activity but with wildlife control)
Ugalla, Kizigo, Muhesi, Moyowosi / Kigosi, Rungwa, Rukwa, Rumanyika, Ibanda, Burigi, Luafi, Usangu, Lukwati, Lukwika and Lumesule. These areas are remote and can be very difficult to reach unless you want to charter a private aircraft there and back. Road access can take several days, much of which is via poor roads.
Unless you are participating in a hunting safari (Yes – Tanzania does allow this!), it is unlikely that you will visit any of the places in the list immediately above although it can be arranged. Generally, hunting areas have a low density of wildlife when compared to National Parks but many offer true wilderness, far off the beaten track.
Firstly, these areas never had a high density of wildlife and hence were not categorized as National Parks
Secondly, these are remote areas that cannot be easily protected due to their shear size and remoteness. The limited funds available to patrol them doesn’t help. Poachers often operate in these areas with relative ease much of the year. This is especially true when the hunting season is closed (usually January 1 – June 30).
Contrary to what many may believe, the presence of Tourist Hunting can help protect these wildlife areas by deterring poachers. It is not in the interest of most hunting operators to deplete their stock of wildlife. Uncontrolled poaching in vacant and unallocated areas very negatively affects the wildlife and forests in Tanzania.
Tourist hunting is controversial, but without it, many areas would already have lost their wildlife. This does not mean that some hunting areas have not been damaged (destroyed) by hunting operators licensed to operate hunts. This is a problem related to ethics and conservation practices – something I am happy to discuss elsewhere.